Posts Tagged With: escapism

From Callisto to Deep Beneath the Earth

I have finally finished my review of the old-fashioned adventures of Lin Carter. First was the Conan-inspired Thongor. Then we flew to the Green Star, where a man trapped by his circumstances on Earth, founds himself in endless adventure in a distant star system. Now, in the Jandar of Callisto series, we follow Johnathan Dark to the moon of Jupiter, where rapid-fire, breathless adventures await.

This is one of Carter’s best, on par with Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars and Carson Napier of Venus epics. Escapist like the rest, but why do so many seek to escape into such books? Are the unhappy with reality? Perhaps, but some do so for fun or to relax. It’s no different then sports or television, though certainly more engaging then the latter. For others, it is more deeper (and maybe they don’t even realize this).

Maybe society, or jobs, or other people, have defined their lives or killed their souls. Carter’s books, and others like it, often start with some disaffected earthman being swept away to another world. There he finds his true self, his purpose, his Story.

Carter continues this thread in his Zanthodon books — his answer to Burroughs’ Pellucidar. In some ways, Carter’s is better — not as drawn out and more focused. The hero, Eric Carstairs finds himself in a lost world underneath the Sahara. There he also finds the beautiful Darya, woman of the bronze age. Darya is realized as a strong female character that stands above the stereotype of pulp fiction. Even she, though, is painted as a contrast to the controlling society miles above — free from what shifting winds there try to define women as.

So take the leap, fly to another world, or go deep below, and perhaps you’ll find that ember inside waiting to burst into fire and flame.

thon

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Hunt for Adventure

James Bond. Doc Savage. Indiana Jones. MacGyver. All guys who seemed to have unlimited resources and unlimited adventures. All owe something to the pulp action stories of yesteryear — with Doc Savage being one of the icons of that era.

Now we have Gabriel Hunt.

The Gabriel Hunt series is an attempt to bring back the pulp action hero by the folks at Hard Case Crime who have almost single-handedly brought back this genre (now published by Titan Books). With a premise of Hunt being “backed by the resources of the $100 million Hunt Foundation and armed with his trusty Colt revolver,” how can you go wrong?

The series is fast-paced escapism as Hunt travels the world in search of lost places, deadly ancient mysterious and Bond-esque villains at every turn. And, of course, Hunt is quite the lady’s man.

Unfortunately, the series only went six volumes. Recently re-released (although not with the original pulp-art covers), maybe the Hunt Foundation will return? Perhaps Hunt can save us from too much “heavy handed message fic” — not that we want to check out from the issues of society, but sometimes escapist fiction can teach us a thing or two.

Like that we need a few more Hunts, Savages and MacGyvers in the world.

mcpic

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“Escaping” Into Fantasy? Be Wary…

Since 1977, Terry Brooks has been writing his Shannara fantasy series. Once the first trilogy was complete, he gave up his day job as a lawyer and never looked back. In spite of his success, he has often been asked why he writes fantasy. Not so much now, with fantasy’s mainstream success, but some still equate fantasy with escapism.

True, any book, television show, hobby has that element — and there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as most people know how not let one overcome the other. Good fiction, whether or not it is fantasy, ultimately rests on how much it draws on real life. From the outside, that may be hard to grasp when talking about stories with fantastic creatures. Yet we have detailed here in past posts that it was the depth and themes of fictional worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia that was in large measure the reason for their enduring success. Continue reading

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Realism or Escapist Entertainment?

Ever know someone who can’t just let themselves enjoy a book or movie? “That movie is just completely implausible and unrealistic,” they say. “But it’s about alien robots!” you respond. Not everything has to be dead serious. Can you write purely for entertainment?

We have examined how a writer can be entertaining and thoughtful, about writing with your own voice and readers misunderstanding your book. These are all important considerations to a writer, but can he or she write more for pure entertainment? Sure they can.

Ultimately, an author’s beliefs or views come out somewhere in a book, but they don’t even have to be the central theme – or a theme at all. Think of all the barely plausible thrillers, and the movies that come from them such as 007, and how entertaining they are. Edgar Rice Burroughs nearly invented the swashbuckling “man finds himself in alien world/culture and must survive one peril after another to get the (native) girl in the end” scenario. He used the archetype in nearly every book he wrote, but through changing the details and characters he made each an original, breathless read.

Sure, his books weren’t without comments on society and such, but for the immersive reader they are the perfect escape. An immersive reader disappears into a book and doesn’t analyze or critique or try to figure it out. They want to be pulled in and, if the writer is good, the reader will catch whatever themes and messages work their way into the story. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a message, so long as it is organically delivered. However, most authors are seeking to tell a story first and foremost. Some may be doing so for pure escapism. Robert Adams writes at the start of his Horseclans series:

The following tale is a fantasy, pure and simple. It is a flight of sheer imagination. It contains no hidden meanings and none should be read into it…rather, [this is] intended for the enjoyment of any man or woman who has ever felt a twinge of that atavistic urge to draw a yard of sharp, flashing steel and with a wild war cry recklessly spur a vicious stallion against impossible odds.

It’s your story. Have a little fun.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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